Today, I was asked that question everyone dreads having to ask. “My dad passed away suddenly last night. He took care of all the investments and taxes. My mom doesn’t know anything. What should she do?”
How can you and your spouse avoid being in this position? Today I will talk about the bare minimum of information you should share.
Even spouses who don’t know, and don’t want to know, anything about money should make sure there is a list of all investments, it is updated yearly, and you know where to find it. At minimum, the list should include all account numbers, the name of any personal banker or financial advisor and the location of any safe deposit boxes and their keys. If you have a tax professional that you trust who knows your situation, put that person’s name on the list too.
Do you have a will? Have you looked at it lately to make sure it still reflects your wishes? What about a medical directive? I recently had to take my mother to the emergency room, and that was the first question they asked. Do you have a power of attorney? Do your relatives know what your wishes are? Do they know where to find these documents? Add this to your list.
What bills do you pay every month? What are they for?
Do you have insurance? A pension? A death benefit? What is the contact information?
Are there automatic deposits being made into your account? Automatic payments coming out? When, why, how much?
Do you owe anyone any money? Who? How much? Contact information?
I advise my clients to sit down once a year, for an hour, and make sure their information is up to date. The New Year is an excellent time to do this.
So here’s a resolution for you. Make it a goal to print out this list, fill it out, share it with your spouse, and file it this week. Spend one hour, and then enjoy that peace of mind!
Next up: how do you find all this information if no one made a list?